Your Tunes: The 50 Most Depressing Songs

by Venomous Kate

Over at NaNoWriMo there’s a forum seeking input on a good playlist to write chick lit. I gave my ideas, but that got me to wondering: what would you suggest? I’m not looking for grrrrrl power songs. Those make me want to go kick somebody’s ass, not sit down and write.

So what songs would you nominate as the 50 Most Depressing (non-Sucky) Songs? Submit ones that make it to my playlist and if my novel gets published I’ll be sure to include your name in the acknowledgments!

UPDATE: Please don’t suggest entire albums. (Ooops… just showed my age, didn’t I?) I’m looking for particular songs, folks.

41 Responses to “Your Tunes: The 50 Most Depressing Songs”

  1. Joni Mitchell –Court and Spark
    Cowboy Junkies –Sweet Jane
    Neil Young –Helpless
    Dave Matthews –Crash Into Me
    John Hammond –Get Behind the Mule
    Beth Orton –Daybreaker
    Nick Drake –Pink Moon

    …and about 100 others…

  2. Ok, this is irritating. I typed a bunch out & lost them when I hit “submit”. Your blog ate my comment dambit!

    “Dear Mr Jesus” Richard Klender lyrics here
    “Mars” Holst The Planets
    “Sunday Bloody Sunday” U2
    “Cat’s in the Cradle” Harry Chapin
    “Forever Young” Rod Stewart
    “Never Again” Nickelback
    “Me & Bobby McGee” Janis Joplin
    “Skylark” kd lang, off the Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil soundtrack
    “When the Children Cry” White Lion (what? stop looking at me like that…)
    “Bittersuite” Motley Crue
    “18 & Life” Skid Row
    “Janie’s Got A Gun” Aerosmith
    “Never Say Goodbye” Bon Jovi
    “Another Day In Paradise” Phil Collins
    “Take A Look At Me Now” Phil Collins
    “Blue” Leann Rimes
    “You’ll Never Be One Again” Alabama
    “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond

    I find I do my best work when I’m listening to stuff that’s really obnoxious and loud; I don’t listen to “depressing” stuff anymore.

  3. I should also point out that I find “Muskrat Love” very depressing, but for entirely personal reasons I won’t go into.

  4. Two from Sarah McLachlan’s album, Possession:
    Good Enough

    Also, One by U2

  5. In an entirely unconnected note, my wife just read my second comment above. Once she recovered enough to talk from laughing so hard she was crying, she informed me it’s one of her ex-husband’s favorite songs.

    No wonder I can’t stand the guy.

  6. You’ve got to have Jimmy Ruffin’s Motown classic “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”

  7. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” — Bonnie Raitt. Chick Lit *and* depressing.

  8. We met on the beach amid rumours of war,
    Your head in your hand — what you saw
    You won’t say —
    As the newspapers flew in the wind
    I can see you’re one of that kind
    Who carry around a time bomb in the mind
    No one knows —
    When you’ll slip the pin

    Rumours of war…
    Rumours of war…

    I see that your dress is torn at the edge,
    You are lost, intense, like a man on a ledge
    Waiting to jump —
    As the waves break over the shore
    You say there’s a storm that can’t be delayed,
    And lately it seems to be coming this way
    You can hear it break —
    Like the slam of a door

    Rumours of war…
    Rumours of war…

    You tell me, just look all around,
    At the past and the present, the Cross and the Crescent
    The signs and the planets
    Are lining up like before
    There are souls on fire in the day and the night,
    On the left and the right, in the black and the white
    You can see it burn
    In the eyes of the rich and the poor

    Rumours of war…
    Rumours of war…

    (“Rumours of War,” Al Stewart from the Russians & Americans album)

  9. Macarthur Park and Taxi are two that come to mind for me.

  10. Well, Dave_J got my mind working on this.

    Simply Red: Holding back the Tears and If You Don’t Know Me by Now; Aerosmith: Dream On; Roy Buchanan; Why Don’t You Want Me featuring Gloria Hardiman‘s beautiful vocals; Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Sky is Crying; Kansas: Two Cents Worth (Pre- Leftoverture); and Boston: More than a Feeling.

    Or, if you want light-hearted depressing, there’s Let’s Drop the Big One Now by Randy Newman, and Hard Day on the Planet by Loudon Wainwright III.

  11. Have you looked at anything from the Carpenters? Some of their stuff, while beautiful, is tragically depressing. Karen Carpenter’s voice was perfectly suited to lost love, never found love, and isolation, and Richard’s writing and arrangement took advantage of that.

    Rainy Days and Mondays
    I Need to be in Love
    Crescent Noon
    Another Song

    (The first four were all singles that received a good deal of airplay, so you should be familiar with them. The last two were album cuts from their second album.)

  12. One more I left off:

    Road Ode (from their fourth album, the one with the five top 12 singles.)

  13. I am a huge a-ha fan, so I automatically nominate “The Swing Of Things”, “October”, and “Manhattan Skyline” from Scoundrel Days; “Blue Sky” and “Hunting High and Low” from Hunting High and Low; and “Crying in the Rain” (yes, it’s a cover, but geez, I said I was an a-ha fan) and “Seemingly Non-Stop July” from East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

    “Hearts Away” by Nightranger (from Big Life)
    “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are” by Meatloaf (from Bat Out Of Hell II)
    “Hands to Heaven” by Breathe (from All That Jazz)
    “Your Wildest Dreams” by The Moody Blues
    “You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles/Diana Krall
    “Right Here Waiting for You” by Richard Marx
    “Missing You” by John Waite
    “Another Rainy Night Without You” by Queensryche
    “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” by Billy Joel

    Oh, yeah, and I second “One” by U2.

    Not that I’ve built downer playlists for the explicit purpose of writing with them before.

  14. BJ Thomas – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

    Perhaps even No Love At All by the same, though I think of that as being more hopeful.

    Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – Sylvia’s Mother

    Harry Nilsson – Without You (it sure sounds like a song written by someone who would later commit suicide, as Pete Hamm did)

  15. Nick Drake – Day is Done
    James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover (listen to that one with extreme caution, it should come with a warning label)

  16. Italics be gone.

    Three more:

    Eleanor Rigby–Beatles
    Tainted Love–Soft Cell
    Dust in the Wind–Kansas

  17. Thanks, Timekeeper. I hadn’t noticed the open tag!

  18. Just a comment to WG first, “When Children Cry” is by White Lion. Second for Brian J, Whitesnake’s “Crying in the Rain” outdoes A-Ha’s. Finally I would have to say “Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails can depress even the most optimistic person because everyone has felt and known the meaning of that song up close and personal…If you haven’t then you have no feelings

  19. From my own personal Depressing Song Playlist:

    “No Children” – The Mountain Goats
    “Missed Me” – The Dresden Dolls
    “Wise Up” – Aimee Mann

    Have fun!

  20. “Roads”– Portishead
    “Maps” -Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    “Crosses” – Jose Gonzales

  21. These are all such good songs! I’m going to go broke downloading and burning them.

    Wait, what am I saying? I’m ALREADY broke!

    But at least I’ll have good music to write (and drink) by. Keep ’em coming! (The tunes, that is.)

  22. Just a comment to WG first…

    D’oh. I knew that. See? I told you EV ate my comment! Now it’s doing editing too! 🙂

  23. We are EV. You will be assimilated.

  24. creep: radiohead
    I can’t get no satisfaction: PJ Harvey

  25. In extenuation, may I offer “With Pen In Hand” by Vikki Carr? God, that song hurts.

  26. Wasn’t “With Pen in Hand” a Bobby Goldsboro song first?

    Speaking of Bobby Goldsboro, “Honey” is pretty depressing, but it’s a bit too velveeta to be included on the list.

  27. Timekeeper;
    Didn’t mean to blow you off. Yes, it’s a Bobby Goldsboro song. Whether he recorded it first or had someone else release it (a la John Hartford and Gentle on My Mind) I don’t know.

  28. Almost everything by Edith Piaf (except “Milord”).

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